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12 August 2019 Comments (0) Architecture, Real Estate, Technology

How the office skyscraper reinvents itself

The Hekla tower at La Défense, designed by Jean Nouvel, is intended to be emblematic of the new-generation skyscrapers – open to the outside, connected to the neighbourhood.

In the district Rose de Cherbourg, in Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine), the first stone of the Hekla tower was laid in June. Hekla is 220 meters high and is supposed to rebalance the southwest skyline in the La Défense business district. Since the work began in 2018, the foundations have been excavated. Delivery of this building of 220 metres is expected for 2022.

Nothing new, you may think… And yet, according to its designers, the Hekla tower will not quite be the twin of its sisters, which house the headquarters of many major French groups, such as EDF, Engie, Thales and soon Saint-Gobain. Designed by the Ateliers Jean Nouvel as part of the redevelopment of the neighbourhood, it will be able to accommodate up to 5,800 employees, spread over 48 floors and 76,000m2 of office space and services.

The avowed goal is to seduce the millennial generation of employees. And to get there, the developers have put the means in. Hekla will include many shared spaces: five restaurants, an auditorium of 250 seats, a wellness area, two business centres, loggias and terraces at all levels for a total of 2,518m2. On the 49th floor, a rooftop will open onto a hanging garden.


A witness of the era

Hekla is implementing a usage and contextual revolution: we worked on the porosity between the building and its environment, with places to relax, the possibility of going out to work in the park at the foot of the tower“, explains Vincent Virlogeux, project manager at AG Real Estate, in Le Monde. It is the reinvention of the office tower model, which, in order to survive vertically, must adapt to new ways of working, transform the neighbourhood into a place to live, bring commerce and leisure destinations.

For his part, Jean Nouvel imagined the silhouette of the future building as a “crystal but in a compact form.” His desire was to “write a tower vocabulary that does not yet exist“, with the additional constraint of having to mark a neighbourhood in full evolution by offering it an architectural milestone of its time. “Architecture is the art of testimony. Every era needs witnesses“, the designer concludes.

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